Jumbo supermarket based in the Netherlands has recently shifted its focus toward the human aspect of customer service. Whilst global supermarkets are investing heavily in AI and self-service technology, Jumbo has decided to reposition some of its services on the opposite side of technological advancement.
Some of our readers will likely have experience with their own elderly relatives - those that do, will know that a trip to the supermarket for their grandparents is usually a much bigger event than for the younger generation. It is a chance to escape their own four walls, get some fresh air, and when they can, interact with others. Research conducted by Jumbo Supermarket identified this and immediately sought action. Jumbo now employ “slow cashiers” who will take their time to communicate with their customers, sparking conversation and making the customer feel as though they matter.
Colette Cloosterman-van Eerd, a chief commercial officer of Jumbo, said: "Many people, especially the elderly, sometimes feel lonely.
“As a family business and supermarket chain, we are at the heart of society. Our shops are an important meeting place for many people and we want to play a role in identifying and reducing loneliness.”
“We do this in various ways, including our Kletskassas. We are proud that many of our cashiers would like to take a seat behind a Kletskassa.”
“They have a warm heart for the initiative and want to help people to make real contact with them out of genuine interest.”
"It is a small gesture, but very valuable, especially in a world that is digitizing and accelerating."
Whilst everyone's focus in tech is turned towards Artificial Intelligence and the powers it can bring, one must ask whether too much attention and research is being spent in this area. As researchers, designers, technicians - and humans - are we forgetting how impactful small interactions can be, and the positive chain of events they bring?
Imagine a world where big - and smaller - tech companies got together, to find ways to improve life; to spend a few days a year and remove themselves from revenue, focusing solely on helping others? Try to imagine the impact it could have on the neediest. At the very least, influencers within tech should incorporate positive and impactful features in their products and across the wider business where possible.